The number of domain names that are available is, if not technically infinite, effectively so. This is one of the many reasons why few people go through the irritating process of trying to re-register expired domains. Even if you were the person who originally owned the domain and you have a significant amount of branding on it, changing domain names is common. You can usually get something close enough to your original name.
Nonetheless there will always be someone that will really want to try to pick up that expired domain. Maybe it’s their family name. Maybe it’s the company name that goes back 100 years. Whatever the reason, these customers will always be there. If you’re one of them, then as long as you’re going to do this, you might as well know how to do it right.
“Expired” doesn’t exactly mean Expired
The first thing that you need to know is that there is a grace period that goes along with a domain name’s expiration date. How long this grace period lasts is determined by the domain’s registrar, and can even be different for different top-level domains. You will want to inquire with them specifically. During this grace period the original owner of the domain name, and only the original owner, can re-register it at normal rates.
Once this period ends then there is usually a “redemption period”. This amounts to about the same thing, except that the original owner must now pay a higher fee. Again, though, no one else can touch it during this phase.
Even then there’s more
If the redemption period lapses, then one of two things happen. First, the registrar can immediately open the domain name up for re-registration by anyone. It is best if this does not happen. Why?
Because the world wide web is packed with digital vultures ready to pounce on an available domain seconds after it re-enters the marketplace. You will have virtually no chance of keeping up with these outfits. Once they register them, then you’ll be looking at some exorbitant fee to make it yours.
This isn’t to say that if your domain goes on auction that you’ll be able to get it automatically, however, you will have a fighting chance. Domain name harvesters are looking for profit, and profit is all but guaranteed if they can snatch up a domain name for a few bucks. The higher the price goes, the less it’s worth, from an investment perspective, for them. They’re making a bet, after all. They don’t know for certain that anyone will want it.
Is it all worth it?
If you’re ready to deal with this hassle, then simply keep an eye on the registrar. Find out from them whether or not the domain is going to go up for auction. Then do like any good auction attendee: show up, and play it smart. Remember what we said: there are nearly an infinite number of many domains. Before shelling out a few hundred, or even thousands of dollars for your dream name, ask yourself whether you can get by with an alternative. Quite a lot of web sites have discovered that they can.